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Gunmen fire on fishermen in Philippines, kill 15


MANILA, Philippines (AP) — Gunmen in the restive southern Philippines opened fire on three boats and killed 15 fishermen in what a military spokesman said Tuesday was likely an attack by a rival group protecting its fishing grounds.
The fishermen were aboard three small, wooden-hulled vessels off Sibago Island in Basilan province when attackers in speedboats fired on them Monday morning and then sped away, military spokesman Lt. Col. Randolph Cagangbang said.
Basilan is a stronghold of Muslim rebels, who have been fighting for minority self-rule in the predominantly Christian nation for decades, as well as criminal and kidnap gangs. But Cabangbang ruled out their involvement.
He told The Associated Press that the fishermen were probably attacked by a rival group of fishermen because they strayed into their fishing grounds. The victims came from Pagadian city in Zamboanga del Sur province, 170 kilometers (100 miles) northeast of Sibago.
"They were fishing in the turf of another group of fishermen from Basilan," Cabangbang said.
Seven fishermen died in one boat, five in another and three more in the third vessel, he said.
One of the survivors told police that their group had been warned to stay away from the fishing grounds where the attack took place, ABS-CBN TV reported.
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Associated Press 

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